Even though the video game industry is one that constantly amazes us, it doesn’t feel too special anymore. Sure, there are some things to look forward to such as new hardware. But other than that the games industry has somewhat lost that special event status luster. Mainstream players may feel like a new Call of Duty is a big deal, yet to others, it’s a regular occurrence.
Compared to a decade ago or the PlayStation 1/Nintendo 64 era, a lot of publishers and games no longer have an event status aura around them. However, there is one publisher around that still commands such a thing and it’s none other than Rockstar Games.
AN UNEXPECTED WAKE-UP CALL
On a mere Sunday morning, 8am CST to be exact, Rockstar Games was able to generate interest in something via a mere social media profile change. Out of the blue, Rockstar changed their social media graphics to the iconic logo adorned by a red background. What was so special about this background was it’s uncanny resemblance, right down to the color code, to that used for the Red Dead series.
A more revealing teaser image was released by Rockstar on Monday morning. Depicting seven silhouettes against a setting sun, the second image was more exciting in what it showed. The image also led to rampant speculation since some of the silhouettes matched existing characters such Bill from RDR.
Heralded by critics and players for its narrative tone, Red Dead Redemption was a change of pace for Rockstar. The unique western atmosphere and gameplay scenarios made for a compelling experience which players have been desperate to return to.
So with simple social media posts, Rockstar Games was able to get the hype machine going among players for the next Red Dead installment.
In a matter of hours, the Rockstar profile update received twenty thousand retweets on Sunday. The first image received over one hundred thousand retweets while the second has garnered sixty thousand. Those stats speak to the true power Rockstar Games has today. Social media is a common marketing tool for every publisher to tease a game. Publishers use it all the time to spread the word among players. But what Rockstar did entered an entirely different stratosphere of marketing impact.
Those two mere tweets made by Rockstar helped raise the stock of Take-Two by 5.7% in a single day.When tweets can have such a drastic positive effect on a stock of a company then that’s a true sign of power. So it’s truly amazing that Rockstar has been able to drum up such a high amount of interest by saying so little.
Compared to other studios right now, there aren’t many which could match such a potent fervor. Blizzard. Bungie and Kojima Productions are the only other studios capable of matching what Rockstar did yesterday. Besides that, widespread interest in studios or particular games just isn’t that high anymore. Even more, there’s occasionally an air of annoyance when a studio opts to do a tease of a teaser trailer. Rockstar Games, on the other hand, has played a simple, yet exquisite, PR game that has players in the palm of their hand.
THE POWER OF QUALITY
Despite their lower game output this generation, Rockstar is still considered a premier developer. It’s the high quality of their games and rare releases which make a new Rockstar project a true gaming event. Players may not get excited about sequels since it’s easy to become jaded. But in the case of Rockstar, receiving a new Red Dead game after nearly seven years is a special occasion.
Rockstar is one of the few studios that can either match or exceed the expectations set by players. With the many retweets and comments made about a new Red Dead came various theories. Who would the main protagonist be? Would character switching be an integral component? Whatever players may be dreaming up its likely Rockstar will either match or exceed those scenarios.
Core Rockstar fans may feel a sense of unease due to the departure of studio veteran Leslie Benzies. As per the legal documents he supplied, Benzies stated that he was the glue during the troubled development of Red Dead Redemption. Given the quality Rockstar strives for a new Red Dead wouldn’t be unveiled unless it was ready for public consumption. So fears about the Benz not being at Rockstar aside, it seems like now is the time for Red Dead to return.
The distinct care that Rockstar puts into their games not only makes them good but builds their overall aura. Rockstar is very selective about what to develop and release. This of course, is a staunch contrast to other publishers who run franchises into the ground. Whereas fans have been clamoring for a new Bully game Rockstar has merely pressed along with other projects. This is a double-edged sword, but Rockstar doesn’t feel beholden to developing constant sequels. It’s this ideology that helps makes the studio so special since when players do receive a new game it’s like getting a golden egg. It’s so precious that you’ll want to cherish it for as long as you can.
Having now been unveiled through a simple image, Rockstar has done little while making a huge impact. Fans finally have confirmation of RDR2, and with that, they can go westward once again. Ultimately, this tease by Rockstar shows that not only is their development prowess exceptional, but so is their PR game as well.